Friday, June 6, 2014

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine: Tales of the Arx Jericho - Episode 05: Tests and Summer Drama

Previously on Tales of the Arx Jericho
Last episode, SAInt pilots of Alpha and Bravo company were instructed by AK-47 to greet a new student and SAInt pilot of Charlie Company at the dorms. When they arrive, Sarah's face is wide as she sees who the new student is. It's her cousin from Germany, Opsie Wessel, the blond, blue eyed girl that Rick and Sarah saw in their individual dreams, during the interface test, and that Rick, Sarah, and Jason saw at the end of their shared dreamscape battle against a horrendous Magnas.

Meanwhile, a Preservation Forces officer of the Western Pacific Division approaches Jason for a word in private. He delivers sad news from his father, that reports state Jason's mother was ca ptured by the Mayzor swarm during the recent attack on Sydney. This left Jason stunned.

GM: Misha Polonsky

The Characters
Rick Hunter (Robert Ruthven): Son of Rafe Hunter, a medical researcher, Rick thought things couldn't get worse after his dad went on the run after his illegal experiments on humans came to light. Then the Mayzor raided the town he lived in, on the outskirts of Metro Scotia, and Rick was powerless to stop the swarm from taking his mother.
Now it's just him and his sister, and when Rick swore vengeance upon the Mayzor and decided to join the SAInt program to fight them, Serena signed up along with him to keep an eye on her brother.

Jason Reyes (David Andrews): Jason is a 13 year old kid whose stepfather is career military. First in the Royal Australian Air Force, then in the Preservation Force. Not being the most physical or athletic kids, Jason never really got on with his step father despite wanting to. He see's becoming a SAiNT pilot to be his best chance of making his stepfather proud of him.

Sarah Werner (Wolfie Fang): Sarah had as normal as a normal life could be before in the States. Her worries were on how she could get a sleepover with her friends and how to keep her older brother from bothering her. After the invasion, she had to grow up fast. Her family escaped with their lives, and they've moved to a new urban city on the east coast, New Alamo. She hoped that she could go back to normal, but life was always spent in fear with each evacuation, and it was hard to have a sleepover when you never slept.
It wasn't mandatory. She only got tested for the SAInt programs because everyone else was, and her brother kept bothering her about it, and honestly didn't realize what she had gotten into. Now she's worried she's lost what little freedom she's had left, but she's got a plan to go turn it around back to fun. She'll make new friends, work together, and she won't let her new chores stop them from having fun.

Greeting Opsie
FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2031
This episode begins right where the last one ended. The WPDPF officer leaves Jason, and Opsie and Sarah continue to stare at each other blankly before finally approaching each other, with the others, to talk. Opsie gives Sarah a bright smile and greets her with a warm, embracing hug, shouting, "Hi cuz!" Sarah returns the greeting and introduces everyone. Opsie is obnoxiously loud and friendly as she greets everyone; she immediately comments out loud on the fact that she finds Jason cute. This angers Laurie, who's standing right there. Strudel's eyes are ogling Opsie, and Stephanie crosses her arms in anger, when she notices. As they head inside the dorms, Opsie's snobby side emerges, and she immediately begins criticizing everything, blabbing on about how much larger and more lavish her dorm was on the Arx Galilee. Rick doesn't seem to like Opsie, but he doesn't mind her all that mnuch; Jason, on the other hand, feels like vomiting every time she speaks.

Jason heads to his dorm room to sulk, while Rick heads off with Serena to her room, so that they can have a private conversation.

Sarah and Opsie head to the girls' dorms as well.

Serena and Sarah are both stopped by Dr. Harris who asks one of them to be Opsie's roommate. Serena immediately replies, "Not me," and Sarah tells Dr. Harris she doesn't mind sharing her room with Opsie.

Billy and Joanne head to their respective dorms, while Alex and Raspberry stealthily follow the girls to their dorms in order to spy on Opsie and Sarah.

Drama Inside the Dorms
Sarah takes Opsie on a tour around the dorms and listens to Opsie drone on and gloat about how her dorms are better, how the Arx Galilee was better, how she was the best SAInt pilot on the Arx, top of her class, an extra special pilot, awesome at video games, especially Shinobi Knights 5. Somehow, Sarah is able to smile, listen, and nod her head throughout, but when Opsie mentions SK5, Sarah's ears really perk up. Sarah challenges Opsie to a match, and they start playing. It's a close match. Actually, that's a joke. Sarah beats Opsie by a landslide, and there's another spectator in the room as a witness. Sarah and Opsie see a shadow from the doorway and look up to see AK-47 standing there and giving them a stern look. Sarah smiles. AK-47 advises her to catch Opsie up on where they are in math class and warns them about a pop quiz tomorrow. She leaves. Sarah and Opsie laugh and resume playing video games.

Meanwhile, Rick takes a seat next to Serena on the edge of her bed. He asks her if everything's OK and goes on to ask her about the shared dreams they had. At first, she doesn't want to talk, but Rick's soothing words manage to convince her. Serena breaks out into tears, when Rick asks her about the needle that Rafe shoved into her neck. She places her hand on that spot on her neck, tears rolling her eyes. She confesses that over the past hour, a flood of painful, repressed memories have resurfaced in her mind, and they're overwhelming, and she doesn't realize how she couldn't remember them in the first place, and she's terrified. All Rick can do is embrace her and comfort her. He, too, mentions he has repressed memories coming back and that it'll all be OK.

Jason is alone in the dorm room he shares with Rick. He dials his mother on the video chat on his Linc, connected to a monitor in the room. No response. He dials her again. No response. He dials her a third time. Still no response. Jason does this for a good hour, or so, before he hears a knock on the door. It's Laurie. She wants to come in, and even though Jason wants to be left alone, he opens the door for her.

Laurie enters with a small handle of vodka and two plastic cups in one hand and a carton of orange juice in the other. She asks Jason if he wants a drink, and Jason, depressed, doesn't say no. She pours them both drinks and sits next to Jason, comforting him.

After a bit more time playing video games, Sarah notices a shadow in the open door quickly move. She decides to follow it and spots movement turning around the corner, down the hall. Sarah gets to the elevator lobby and looks around for whoever or whatever that was. She looks around the back of a trash can in the corner, nothing, but then Sarah peeks inside the trashcan and notices an outstretched newspaper and two hands gripping it, nervously shaking. Raspberry lowers the newspaper, and his face is as red as a tomato. Sarah convinces him to tell her the truth about what he's doing here, and Raspberry replies he was spying on her and Opsie. Sarah tells him he doesn't need to spy on her, he's always free to join them, and Raspberry's face turns even brighter. He climbs out of the trashcan and hurriedly presses the elevator button to get away. Sarah leaves him and spots Strudel across a perpendicular hallway, by the elevator, before turning down her hallway and walking to her room.

Sarah grabs Opsie and heads to Serena's room, knocking on the door. Rick asks Serena if they can come in, and she silently nods her head yes. Rick says, "Come in," and Sarah and Opsie tell them they want to go check on Jason. Serena and Rick join Sarah and Opsie, and, together with Strudel, who they randomly run into in the hallway, head over to Rick and Jason's room.

Outside their room, Rick presses his thumb on the sensor pad that opens and locks his door. The door slides opens, and all five pilots see Laurie straddling Jason atop his bed and the drinks that are out. Rick immediately closes the door, and Opsie's grinning the entire time. She reaches for Rick's hand, and, after he fails to pull it away fast enough enough, Opsie presses his thumb to the sensor pad and the door opens again. Laurie continues kissing Jason for a moment, and then they both stare at everyone. Laurie and Opsie exchange looks, which Sarah and the others discern as looks of jealousy and competition. Laurie eventually gets off and leaves the room, while Rick turns on the sink in the bathroom. Jason is clearly drunk, and Rick takes his head and douses it under the sink in attempt to sober him up. There's a knock on the door.

Sarah quickly hides the liquor bottle, and Rick opens the door. It's Billy. "What are you doing here?" Rick asks. Billy walks in complaining about the upcoming test tomorrow. AK-47 stopped by his room and told him to go to bed early. Rick mentions that they know about the pop math quiz, which Sarah and Opsie mentioned to everyone. Billy's eyes go wide. He's talking about another simulation test tomorrow. He didn't know about the pop quiz! Jason's stupidly laughing, and Billy starts get heated up, threatening him.

Rick moves in to restrain Billy, but Billy resists. Sarah helps Rick restrain Billy's arm, while Serena's yelling at Billy. Finally, Billy's resolve is broken down, and Rick continues to hold him, while Serena slaps him across the face. Rick tells him to calm down and leave, and Billy does so, his pride once again wounded and his face red.

Sarah, Serena, Opsie, and Strudel stay with Rick to help sober Jason up. Afterwards, they grab a late night snack and head to their dorms to bed.

Pop Quiz and Cafeteria Drama

The next day, the SAInt pilots have their pop quiz, which a good number of students knew about (yes, they sometimes have classes on Saturday). Rick actually studied and earns a fairly good grade. He does better than Joanne and Billy, for sure. Jason, despite his hangover, does better than Billy, surprisingly. Strudel's impressed. Jason does better than him too. Sarah cheats off Serena again, though she has to hide her paper and act natural more times than usual, as it's AK-47's class. Sarah still manages to get away with a passing grade.

The pilots are showing each other their papers and going over test scores at the cafeteria. Opsie is gloating with a small crowd around her. Serena looks extremely bummed. Rick asks her what's wrong, but Serena doesn't want to talk about it, as usual. Rick convinces her to spill the beans, and Serena says she got a 99% on the pop quiz and studied, whereas Opsie got a 100% and didn't. Rick consoles her as best as he can. Opsie continues to gloat, and Jason and her get into a tiff. Jason says some harsh words about why she arrived here, if she's so great, instead of defending the Arx Galilee, which is under attack. He walks away from the table. Opsie shuts up and walks away too. Soon, Joanne passes by Rick and stops to ask him what grade he got. When he tells her, she's in disbelief and asks him to see his paper. Her face goes mad, she throws the paper back at him, and proceeds to dump her leftover mashed potatoes and gravy over Rick's head. Joanne leaves the cafeteria. "What the hell?" Rick yells and chases after her. Sarah goes after them, as well.

Outside the cafeteria, in the hallway, Rick asks Joanne why she did that. Joanne laughs at him, then puts on a serious, angry look again and replies that he got a better grade than her and that he's annoying. She walks away. He sighs and realizes Opsie is at the other end of the hallway. She blinks, having seen the whole thing. They don't say much. Sarah enters the hallway and leaves with Opsie. Rick leaves to go wash himself off.

Back in the cafeteria, Jason nearly spills his drink over his Linc, accidentally. Strudel comes over and asks Jason how he's doing. Jason grumbles, and then Strudel asks him to fix his broken Linc. Jason grumbles some but goes and fixes it. Strudel thanks him, giddy and impressed. Laurie is impressed to; she walks by and gives Jason a wink.

Whispers in the Garden
Rick, Sarah, Jason, Serena, and Strudel decide to meet up in the secluded garden (where Strudel once picked flowers out for Ryoko and again for Stephanie) before their simulation test with the other companies. It's a giant square, flush with greenery, surrounded by urban buildings and alleyways. While hanging out, they're suddenly caught off guard as they see AK-47, Dr. Johnson, and a couple of CRC scientists talking and walking through into the garden. The quickly hide. Jason hops into some bushes, Serena hides in some plants. Rick, Sarah, and Strudel quickly climb up a tree and onto the closest rooftop within earshot. Together, Alpha Company closely observes the conversation, watching and listening. AK-47 mentions how the Preservation Forces need Opsie as team leader of Charlie Company at the moment, but the CRC scientists demand that she report to Dr. Rafe Hunter immediately. She's only ran simulation tests for piloting the Class-P SAInt, she hasn't actually attempted to yet and needs to, they say. They also say that Opsie's communication with the other pilots should be severely limited. AK-47 protests, but Dr. Johnson sides with the CRC scientists. AK-47 stands her ground, saying Opsie needs to develop strong relationships with the other pilots, and she needs to be team leader of Charlie Company for now; she might even supersede Serena as team leader of Alpha Company, who knows? AK-47 says Opsie can visit the CRC and work on her tests simultaneously. The CRC begrudgingly accept her terms. Throughout the conversation, the word, 'The Apostle Project' is mentioned a few times.

After they leave, Alpha Company has a brief conversation amongst themselves before heading to the simulation testing facility.

More Drama and a Solo-SAInt Simulation Test
They meet Bravo and Charlie Company at the vending machines in the main lobby. Billy starts throwing insults, calling Alpha Company Aardvarks, and Joanne joins in. Together, Rick, Sarah, Jason, Serena, and Alex rally everyone, as they have a trash-talk competition and win, getting everyone to laugh at Billy and Joanne, including pilots on their own team! Opsie and the new Charlie Company laugh along, as well.

This time, the simulation test focuses on individual skills when piloting the SAInt. Each pilot goes head to head with a Principal-Dominion class Magnas and shows off their best skills against it.

Rick goes up against the Magnas with his Arc Sword and Arc Knife, slashing and cutting away at the Magnas at CQ range. Joanne's not impressed that he does better than her, again, but Serena is impressed. Rick actually does better than Serena and realizes she's off her game because of Opsie.

Jason utilizes his best skills at HB range and takes cover amongst buildings, while repeatedly sniping at the Magnas, delivering clear, precise shots. He, once again, does better than Billy and impresses Strudel, as well as AK-47 and the other pilots.

Sarah takes her time with the Magnas, staying back and observing its movements before moving in at the perfect moment. She repeats this strategy several times, and lands a few, well-timed blows on the Magnas, earning respect from AK-47 and Serena.

Opsie outshines Serena once again, and after the test is over, the pilots go have supper together in the cafeteria.

The rest of the month flies by fast, as the summer semester is prone to do.


Next Time
Cue music.

New Alamo is under attack! What? Two wormwoods? It's just like the shared dream! The swarms are taking civilians by the hundred. Oh no! One of them's chasing Sarah's parents!

Alpha Company is deployed and faces one of their most brutal battle yet against a horde of Soldiers, Brawlers, and Archers. Bravo Company is being sent as backup, but something goes wrong.

Aside from the military and their Robbies, Alpha Company is all alone. Suddenly, a Magnas descends from the heavens, followed by another. What? There's two of them? What's going on?!

Stay tuned!

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